US Focuses on Trade with Latin America in Planning Summit

Article excerpt

tWO weeks before this coming Christmas, President Clinton and the heads of state of 33 Latin American, Caribbean, and North American countries will come to Miami to talk about the hemisphere.

The meeting will be the first of its kind in 27 years. Mr. Clinton, when he announced the summit in March, said that two broad themes will be discussed during the meeting: "{H}ow to strengthen our democracies ... and how to improve economic growth."

In 1967, when leaders in the hemisphere met in Punta del Este, Uruguay, they focused on narrow cold war concerns.

This time, however, the agenda of the summit should have "trade" up front, said United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown in Miami on Friday on his way to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile with a trade mission.

"Our trade with Latin America will soon pass our trade with all of Europe," Mr. Brown told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

"Brazil has a bigger economy than the economy of Russia and all the newly independent states combined," he said. "But you don't hear much about our relationship with ... this hemisphere."

The secretary said Chile, which wants to be included in the North American Free Trade Agreement, is "first in line for a future free trade agreement."

The summit agenda is still being worked out. Officials here say the summit will be similar to the summit of Asia-Pacific nations held last November in Seattle.

The business and political leaders of south Florida lobbied the White House extensively to bring the conference here. Miami was chosen over Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and San Diego. …